Thursday, May 12, 2016

Review: Claimed by Elle Kennedy

Series:  Outlaws #1
Pub. Date:  October 6, 2016
Publisher:  Berkley Publishing
Pages:  368
Format:  Print ARC
Source:  Berkley Publishing

Soooo, this book was not at all what I was expecting. It was super duper steamy, and I was reading on a very packed Southwest flight. And the nosey old dude next to me kept trying to peak at my page. I was having a dilemma... let him see, which might spark some uncomfortable conversations, or make the print tiny and shield my tablet. I went with the latter. I wasn't ready to go there with the rando rubbing elbows with me b/c if he turned out to be weird, I couldn't exactly get away.

This is a post-apocalyptic type tale... where after the last American war or uprising, a ruling council emerged from the survivors and instituted an extreme form of communism. Citizens were required to live in highly regulated cities where only council members and enforcers were allowed medical care. The philosophy of natural selection ruled when it came to injury and illness. Those that refused to live under that rule roamed outside the cities as outlaws and bandits. Bandits were baddies, robbing and killing people. Enforcers were also baddies, killing outlaws or forcing them back into the city. So our characters, the outlaws, are kinda the freedom fighters of this bleak future.

Connor is a born and bred outlaw. After his wife was killed by the enforcers, he set out to be a lone wolf, but instead ended up leading a group of 4 other guys in their bid to survive the harsh wilds of the country. (By the way, the coast is now Utah, all states beyond that sank into the ocean.) Connor is the typical broody alpha male caveman... so of course I liked him. But I think I liked some of his ragtag group just a smidge better. I am very interested to see the direction the stories of Rylan and Pike take.

Hudson is a high level citizen who has escaped the city to avoid an undesirable marriage contract. She manages to talk her way into Connor's group, and she has an instant and undeniable attraction to the broody leader. Hudson was a pretty good heroine. She was able to kick a little ass, but her experiences had not hardened her heart. She genuinely cared about other people (and animals), and she managed to thaw even the frostiest member of the outlaw group.

As for the relationship... well it was sex over substance. A true smutty read. There were things happening in public, in groups, in 2s and 3s. There were outdoor and barndoor shenanigans. There was just a whole of a whole lot goin' on. This made for an interesting plane ride for me and I'm sure my face was a bit red the entire way.

I did enjoy the story, but I think I would have liked a bit more world building. I wanted more of a backstory for the apocalyptic war. And I wanted more character development for the primary and secondary characters. I enjoyed it without these aspects... but I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I had more than the sexytime to sink my teeth into.

In the interests of disclosure, Berkley Publishing gave me a free copy of this book at the RT Convention. Based on how things looked at the end of this book, I am excited to see where the next installment of the series takes us.